Research from Cardiff University in the UK suggests that it could be time to stop using antibiotics to treat moderate eczema in children and to focus instead on corticosteroid and emollient creams.
According to the study, 40% of eczema flare-ups in children are currently treated with topical antibiotics. However, the scientists found no meaningful benefit from using oral or topical antibiotics for milder types of eczema. The study is published in the journal Annals of Family Medicine.
Eczema is an inflammatory skin disease that causes patches of skin to become itchy, red and cracked. It can also cause spots and blisters. It is often associated with food allergies, allergic rhinitis and asthma.
The researchers studied 113 children, who were given oral antibiotics (flucloxacillin) or topical antibiotics (fusidic acid) or placebos. All the children also received emollient creams and steroid creams.
The results showed no significant difference between the two groups in the resolution of eczema symptoms after two weeks, four weeks or three months.
As a result, the scientists don't recommend the use of antibiotics in children with mild eczema, even if there are signs of infection. What's more, "their use can promote resistance and allergy or skin sensitization," explains Dr Nick Francis, who led the study.
Instead, the scientists advise using steroid creams and applying emollient creams (moisturizers) on a daily basis for long-term treatment.
The study is available here: http://www.annfammed.org/content/15/2/124